Irish Dancer, Martial Artist, Choreographer, and Dreamer
Called “one of the most exciting dancers to ever step on the world stage,” Joel Hanna is a world-renowned dancer and choreographer whose skill set is as impressive and diverse as his resume. Known for his athletic and boundary-breaking mixture of tap dance, musical percussion, Irish dance, and martial arts, Hanna has already lived something of an entertainment fairy tale.
He has travelled the world sharing his love for dance through performing, choreographing, and teaching, and his resume is loaded with crowning achievements. The New York Times selected his work as a NY Times 2012 Pick of the Year for Choreography in " Pastures of Plenty," a tribute commissioned by the Woody Guthrie Foundation. He has graced the cover of Celtic Life International Magazine, and was a featured artist for Feis America Magazine, highlighted in a center spread called “A Leap and Faith.”
Joel has danced for such dignitaries as the President of Yugoslavia, the Papua New Guinea tribal king, and has even performed for delegates at the United Nations for the opening of the World Youth Assembly. Additionally, he performed in “The Scottish Lion Meets the Asian Dragon” for From Scotland with Love 2013, a NYC fashion event where he appeared with Arun Gandhi, world-famous socio-political activist and grandson of the legendary Mohandas Gandhi, for the Wounded Warriors fund.
Joel began his dance training at age 9 in Vancouver and has never looked back. Joel’s first big break came in 1997 when he joined RIVERDANCE: The Show, performing throughout Britain and North America. During this time he was selected to be the subject of a documentary, produced by CBC/Riverdance, called "The Badboy and the Hometown Girl", which is still broadcast today. After two seasons, Joel left the Riverdance company to join the original stars of the show, Colin Dunne and Jean Butler, to perform in their production DANCING ON DANGEROUS GROUND in London’s West End, Radio City Music Hall, and the Royal Variety Performance.
Joel then choreographed and starred for four years in the critically acclaimed production Fire of Dance, performing as the original lead soloist on more than 200 stages a year. Joel created Revolution: Sweat, Dance, Rock & Roll in 2007, which debuted in New York City at the world-famous Joyce Theater during its 25th anniversary season. Following the phenomenal success of its run, the production (partnered with Columbia Artists Management Inc. or "CAMI") performed a national tour sponsored by Gibson Guitars. In 2008, Joel toured as the lead tap soloist in a UK tour of Magic of the Dance.
Recently, Joel’s amazing career continues its journey. He headlined in Choreography On the Edge for three years to sold-out audiences in historic Woodstock, New York. Joel is co-director and star of the Vancouver Spring Show, collaborating with Teng Aimin, who directed work for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games. Joel choreographed What I’m Failing to Learn, which premiered Off Broadway in May of 2013.
The flexible and creative physicality that Joel has developed over the years as a percussionist and martial artist – with additional training in Flamenco dance and guitar – has catapulted Joel into many circles of the international dance community. His performance and teaching style have gained him acceptance into the international Modern and Tap communities and has allowed him opportunities to regularly perform on stage with legends such as Pete Seeger, Andrea Bocelli, Charles "Cholly" Atkins, Will Millar, Jimmy Slyde, Jeni LeGon, Dianne Walker, Brenda Bufalino, and Jason Samuels Smith. He is also the first dancer from Vancouver to have his own show open and run in New York City. He was a soloist at the Jacob's Pillow Concert Series two years in a row, and has appeared with Grammy Award nominee Dave Eggar at Lincoln Center in New York City.
In addition to dance and choreography, Joel gives back to the world dance community by teaching. He has taught and choreographed award-winning pieces for schools and professional dance companies all over North and South America, including The Vancouver Tap Society (BC), The Vanaver Caravan (NY), Solas an Lae (NY), Simon Fraser University (BC), New York University (NYU) and Columbia University (NY). Joel’s charismatic, innovative style of teaching and performing has been sought-after all over the world, including Mexico City, Juneau, Alaska, Singapore, Warsaw, Helsinki and London!
More than his accomplishments though, Joel will be the first to tell you that the people and places will always matter much more to him than the things. While he is certainly proud of what he has been able to do thus far in the industry, the moments that he would not trade are the personal encounters. From stepping on the stage and connecting with an audience, to being inspired by a conversation with a legend backstage after the show, to inspiring and encouraging youth to pursue their own performance dreams, Joel lives for moments like those. Creating and performing is where Joel’s heart is, and when those are intertwined with personal moments, that is the ideal combination.
Currently, Joel is traveling the world to continue to pursue his goals and dreams. He will be travelling to Udaipur, India, this winter with the Vanaver Caravan, an internationally acclaimed non-profit dance and music troupe, as part of “Dancing for Change.” Joel will also be releasing new works through his own company, J-Han Dance, which will premiere in New York and will show internationally throughout 2014.
Beyond his physical ability, Joel’s mesmerizing comfort, charisma, and warmth onstage invite audiences to join him as if he were welcoming them into his own home. To keep up with Joel’s fairytale adventure through dance and learn more about his exiting, crazy, and entertaining personality, follow him on Twitter at @JoelWHanna, and check out his personal interviews with Irish Central and WBD Magazine!
Reviewers had these glowing remarks about Joel’s work-
"The spark of Joel Hanna’s tapping and clogging, like the sheer panache of his performance, was utterly winning, but his camaraderie was equally so.”
-The New York Times. 2012.
"The star of the show is undoubtedly Joel Hanna. His dynamic style of dance and body percussion and the speed with which he applies it is breathtaking."
-The BBC, UK
"A genuinely skilled and appealing dancer(Joel Hanna)"
-New York Times.
"He was unbreakably cool and composed no matter how hot his feet got."
-Weatherford Daily News
"Joel Hanna is one of the most talented performers I've ever worked with"
"Perhaps nowhere is the intensity and beauty of Tap Dance better combined than with the artistry of Vancouver native, Joel Hanna."